Saturday, July 30, 2011

Packing for College

So now that we know what dorm Whitney will be living in, the college buying spree has gone full speed ahead. So far we've got all her bedding, bathroom stuff, books, laptop and a first aid kit all ready. With nowhere to store this stuff, we've had gone to the piling method. And we still have to figure out what clothes to take (at least she does have a decent size closet).

A box of supplies, sheets and backpack full of binders/paper

The bedding

Towels, containers, blanket, odds and ends
I've ordered the combination fridge/microwave for the room and her roommate has agreed to share the cost.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Reality TV Roundup

One show is coming to a close so of course I have to start a new one. Here's this week's reality tv shows.

The Glee Project



A guilty pleasure of mine is watching Glee. I always wanted to be the kid in high school that could sing and dance so I live vicariously through these kids. And the Glee Project amps up Glee by putting real people through a very long audition process. The prize...a seven week stint on Glee as a guest. WOW that is an awesome prize. I have my favorite (Cameron) but I don't think he will win. My guess is Samuel will win.


So You Think You Can Dance

I haven't enjoyed this season as well as past ones. Maybe last year spoiled me because they were totally awesome and this year I really think there are a couple of outstanding dancers. Don't get me wrong, these people are talented. But they just don't have the spark quality. My bet is on Melanie to win this year. I liked her the minute I saw her audition.

Project Runway

OK new season just started this week. I love me some Tim Gunn. Not quite sure how I feel about any of the people just yet. Too many to start to pick a favorite. And with so many they only highlight the ones that are going to be in that week's top and bottom so someone in the middle may be good and we just don't get to hear from them for awhile. Right now I'm liking Bert, the old guy. Mainly because it takes some guts to get on a show like this when you are 57 (or 102 like he said) because it is grueling. Hopefully the challenges will get more interesting in the coming weeks. Of course if I had to use my pajamas to make something it might be interesting depending on the time of year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

1. July is National Ice Cream Month...your favorite flavor? Soft serve, hand dipped or frozen yogurt-which do you prefer? And technically yogurt is not ice cream but its hot outside so I'll let that slide for today.

I used to say mint chocolate chip (the green fake stuff). But now there is a place near us with frozen custard that has pumpkin in October-November. Add in some pie crust and add some whipped cream and you have a pumpkin pie concrete. YUMMY!

2. When you travel do you tend to pack too much or too little?

I probably pack too much but not over-abundantly. My problem is I have to take my pillow and sound machine with me so even a small work trip means a big suitcase.

3. What's your favorite cleaning product?

That would have to be Dan, my husband. He is the best at deep cleaning (although he likes using lemon Pine-Sol which I can't stand).

4. What's the greater tragedy-an innocent person imprisoned or a guilty person set free? Explain.

I think an innocent person in prison. As much as I hate a guilty person going free, we all know there are lots of guilty people running around this world that just haven't gotten caught. And if they are super terrible, eventually they will get caught and go to prison.
5. What's the longest trip you've taken by car?

We were road trip warriors for many years. Being in the middle of the country, it takes forever to drive anywhere. So we've done the 20 hour trip to DisneyWorld (twice) and also 20 hour trips to Washington state (twice). I think I've given them up now however because I can't sit in a car for as long as I used to.
6. tennis-golf-canoeing-biking...pick one.

That would be NONE. All involve being outside and I don't do that.
7. What sound drives you crazy?

Snoring, a slow dripping sink, high pitched screams
8. Insert your own random thought here.

When is it too early to start a retirement countdown? I've got about 6-7 years before I can retire from this job and look for another profession to work another 10 years at so I can get another retirement.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Wait is Over

Whitney finally got the email with her room assignment for college. She is going to be in Walker Tower. Of course this now makes her a third generation Walker resident as my mother lived in Walker at Illinois State and Dan and I lived in Walker at OU. She is in a room of three girls. One of them she had already friended on facebook so they were chatting away last night. I'm not sure how this happened but the other girl is short and likes Disney too. Hmmm, I don't remember that being one of the placement questions. They have the other girl's name and email address but don't know anything about her and if she is on facebook they can't find her.

So for now we can return the full size bedding set, buy all the rest of the twin bed stuff, and furnish a dorm room. One of the leaders for sorority rush posted pictures of her room in Walker so the girls can get an idea of how much stuff will fit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Going to try a new blog hop today.

1. July 20th marks the anniversary of the first time man stood on the moon. Flash forward 42 years to July 8, 2011 which marked the start of the final Space Shuttle mission. Should we continue to explore space? Should nations devote more or fewer of their resources to exploring space? Would you want to go into space if the opportunity arose?

Dan and I just watched a whole series on the entire space program. I certainly think that it is a lot of money that we have spent on space exploration (over $1.5 billion on the space station alone). And now that they aren't flying the space shuttle, how much use is the space station if something happens with the Russians? I think there are too many problems here on earth to really focus a lot of money and attention on space. And no I don't want to go into space.

2. What are three things in your freezer?

Mozzarella cheese, ice bags, hamburgers.

3. If you could see any band/artist perform live tonite who would it be? It has to be someone living-no Beatles, Elvis, etc.
I would probably say Prince, but that may have been more in his heyday. Maybe Lady Gaga? I'm not a big concert person so it would have to be a SHOW!

4. Ice-cubed or crushed? Or are you one of those people who don't like ice?

I like ice but it really doesn't matter to me. Our freezer gives us cubes but we can change it to crushed. I rarely do, but I can if needed.
5. The owner of a small restaurant outside of Pittsburgh recently announced he was banning children under six, saying they regularly disrupted other customer's meals. You can read the story here in more detail but isn't this a perfect topic to discuss in our Wednesday Hodgepodge? Have at it friends...what are your thoughts?

I think the restaurant can decide who they want to serve. If you don't like it, don't go there. My child was a well-behaved one but there were still times when something happened and you knew it was interupting others. I have some tolerance to it, but if I go out to a nice restaurant, I don't want to hear crying, yelling or someone being told to sit down.
6. What was your first car? How did it come to be yours?

A Toyota Corrolla. I bought it and didn't know how to drive it since it was a stick. Dan had to teach me. He test drove it and said it was good.
7. If I had a nickel for every time I __________ I'd be rich.

How about burping? It seems as I've gotten older I do it all the time. I'm having major acid reflux the last few years and this is how it really manifests itself. I try and be polite and not make it noisy, but even if you keep your mouth closed, everyone can hear it.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Just got the book list for Whitney's first semester of college and with used books from amazon we can keep the costs under $400 for 7 books. I'm super excited about that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pan Seared Steak

I'm going to try and put pictures and a recipe here at least once a week.

This is probably the easiest, tastiest way to cook a steak. Even I can do it (and I don't cook meat well).

You need a good sized steak (at least an inch thick), canola oil and kosher salt and pepper.

Most importantly you need a cast iron skillet.
Heat your skillet in the oven at 500 degrees (yes that is right super hot). Bring steak to room temperature.

Remove the pan after it is smoking hot, and place on the stove on high heat. Coat the steak lightly in oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place the steak in the pan. Cook 1-2 minutes without moving it. Then turn it over with tongs and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes. Place the skillet in the super hot oven for 3 minutes a side.

Remove the steak from the pan, cover loosely with foil and rest for 2-5 minutes. You can put a little pat of butter on the steak while it rests if you like.

And that's it. I had a friend over who brought fresh from the farm steaks and he said when I cooked them this way, it was one of the best ways he had ever had a steak.

So if I can do it, so can you. Dan and I split one of these and now have the other one as leftovers. Steak may be expensive, but you don't need a lot when it tastes this good.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Stroll

On my way to church this morning, I ran into a gaggle of geese on the move. They were walking across the busy street from the neighborhood across from us to get to our pond. I'm not sure why they didn't fly from one pond to the other. But it certainly brought a huge smile to my face.
I guess they decided to conserve energy and walk

The stragglers

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Emmy Nominations

The Emmy nominations came out this morning. I don't watch a lot of regular tv so I have no idea who some of these people are nor do I know the shows. Plus I don't get HBO, Showtime or any of those kind of stations. I do watch Glee and noticed that none of the main characters were nominated. I'm sure that is because the main storylines were really sucky this year. But good old Sue and Kurt were nominated. They are great no matter what they are given.

But I'm really excited about the choreography category. Did you know they have that? Well you would if you are a fan of So You Think You Can Dance. I absolutely love this show. Last night as we watched, Whitney and I started naming all the dances that we thought would be nominated. And we had them all right. Guess we are pretty good judges. It looks like each choreographer who was nominated had three dances listed. I don't know if they award on a body of work or an individual dance. But they can give out more than one so I'm hoping that they get more than one.

My favorites had to be Alex and Twitch's hip hop "Outta This World". Entertainment Weekly named it the number 1 dance from all seven seasons of the show. It is fantastic. It is too bad that Alex got hurt the following week and had to withdraw from the competition because he would have won. I'm hoping that next week he is announced as an All-Star for the rest of this season.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Weather Update

We did it! We finally had a day that was below 100 degrees. And it rained! Woohoo!

Yesterday somehow we were blessed with rain. This is after our city and many around us have gone on water rationing. (I have come up with some creative ways to conserve water but everyone seems to be against me not bathing). It started with some lightning and thunder and dark clouds up north. Then we had a few drops. Then it rained. I finally got home from work and it seemed to be over. But no, we had a huge wind come through and then bam, a true downpour. It was so wonderful. I wanted to go out in it and get wet but it was lightning and I thought that was a little too dangerous.

The air was very humid but much cooler. Not cool enough to open the windows but the air conditioning didn't run as much.

Of course today is going to be hot but I think we might avoid 100 degrees again today. Cross our fingers on that one.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What's for Dinner?

I'm sure that this question hounds all of us. I try and make a meal plan before I go grocery shopping each week so we have stuff at home and don't eat out. In fact we rarely eat out so I must do a good job. But the weeks where I sort of wing it and say we have stuff in the freezer and stuff to make such and such never turn out well. This is one of those weeks.

First of all, it is too darn hot outside to have the oven on. So that limits things. Then we have a burn ban going on because of the drought and that somewhat limits outdoor grilling. Plus it is too hot (see first sentence) to stand outside and cook. So we have the stove, the microwave, and stuff that doesn't need to be cooked. Rather limiting I think.

We love pesto, in fact made a big batch this weekend and ate from it twice. But we can't have it every day of the week. Spaghetti is always a good choice because Whitney loves it but I'm getting tired of that. I've made microwave nachos the last couple of weeks and that is good. But I'm looking for something different.

Tonight I think I'm going to make something with a bunch of leftover frozen pastas, spaghetti sauce and frozen meatballs. I've got a couple of different cheeses to add. And maybe there will be enough for leftovers. That will give me an extra day of not thinking about dinner.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

How Do You Know When It Is Hot?

It is 109 degrees as I type this. We are on record setting pace for most 100 degree days in a summer, most consecutive 100 degree days, most consecutive days over 90 degrees and who knows how many other records.

So how do you know it is hot? Here is a few examples.

1. It is so hot that when you go out to get the mail you have to wear shoes because the sidewalk/driveway/grass is too hot for your barefeet.

2. It is so hot that the dog starts drooling from panting the instant she goes outside.

3. It is so hot that it is 98 degrees at 9 at night.

4. It is so hot that it is all anyone talks about.

5. It is so hot that pools feel like bathwater.

6. It is so hot that I want to make the man who invented air conditioning (Willis Carrier) the patron saint of the State of Oklahoma.

7. It is so hot that the ice and snow storms of last winter seem like it was in another land far far away.

Unfortunately the heat wave is going to go on for a long time. Without any rain the ground is dry and radiates the heat back into the air. And with it so hot any moisture in the air evaporates and can't produce rain. So the drought continues, the heat continues, and the electric company gets rich.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Five Question Friday

1. Do you think cursive writing is overrated? (Schools in Indiana have now voted to take teaching cursive writing out of their curriculum.)

It isn't overrated. You have to sign your name on everything. And I think that writing in cursive is faster than printing so taking notes in college is easier that way. I came up with my own shorthand too. Of course I've signed my name so many times now with this job that you can't read my signature. The T is fine but the rest is a scribble. I can't even sign it right when I think out each letter. I can sign other names correctly, just not mine.

2. Do you still use a pocket calendar or notepad or do you keep your info on your smart phone?

I don't have a smartphone but I do use the Outlook calendar on my computer. I have a big calendar at home to write everyone's appointments on. And I keep track of my time off on a calendar next to my desk.

3. What 3 things would you save if your house was burning down? (family & pets are already safe)

All of my scrapbooks, home videos and the computer since it has all the digital photo files. Everything else can be replaced.

4. Country Mouse or City Mouse, err Person?

Definitely city. I don't like being out in the country where you have to drive more than 15 minutes to get to anything.

5. If you could pick ANY reality show to go on, which would you pick?

Amazing Race. This is a no brainer. I've talked about it for years. I just can't get my husband to agree to try out with me.

If I had talent, So You Think You Can Dance would be the show. But alas I'm too old and have no dance skills.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yummy Snack

A couple of years ago when I started losing weight, I decided the best thing would be to have snacks mid-morning and afternoon to help resist the temptation of m&ms. So I ate a lot of 90 calorie granola bars. Which I truly do like and still eat all the time. But I keep looking for new alternatives. This system works and I'm not going back. I've recently discovered a new product called Kellogg's Special K Fruit Crisps. They are sort of like poptarts only a lot less calories and smaller. I get the strawberry ones. For 100 calories it is a great treat. They are crispy and strawberry delicious.

I just wish there were coupons for them because they are a little expensive even at Walmart.

I'm not getting anything from Kellogg's for this. I just wanted to let you know if you see them, to try them.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fourth of July Fireworks

I refuse to go out to the town's display of fireworks for several reasons. First of all DisneyWorld has spoiled me on fireworks. Second it is too darn hot out there and crowded. So I watched the three major fireworks displays on tv.

Photo from Boston Globe
1.CBS did a great job with the Boston fireworks. These are top of the list. They held the camera pretty steady on the display so those of us at home could actually watch them. Thank you for a great display.

2. NBC was ok on the New York City fireworks. They shoot off simultaneous ones so it wasn't quite the spectacular display as Boston which was more concentrated. Also the camera shots kept trying to get close ups and that never works on fireworks.

3. PBS sucked at the Washington DC fireworks. I'm sure that these are absolutely fabulous in person. But I wouldn't know because every three seconds the camera was going to another angle. I was getting dizzy trying to watch. And then they kept trying to show the bands playing. I'm watching for the fireworks, not to watch the band. Then they cut away before they were even over to end the broadcast. Poor planning and I doubt I'll watch them again.

CBS did a good job in the music choices. Having only one singer and then having the patriotic sing-a-long was just right. I just want fireworks.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Lovely Anniversary

Yesterday was our anniversary. 23 years of being married to each other. In these times I think that is a great accomplishment. It seems even more poignant because some friends just announced they are getting a divorce.

I look back at our wedding pictures and we both look so much better than we did then. We certainly don't look 23 years older.

We aren't big celebrators but seem to go out to dinner for our anniversary. This year we went to the same restaurant as last year. Mainly because I had a groupon for it. But it was a very nice Italian meal. We had great conversations about everything. After that many years together, you can finish each others sentences and we do. I love that we have inside jokes about silly things. We quote movies all the time and I know people have to think we are crazy.

In two years I think we will have to do a trip to celebrate. I still remember when my parent's celebrated their 25th anniversary. They gave each other fancy watches. I have the one my mom received. And my brother will get the pocket watch that my dad received. For us travel is a big thing so I think a super special trip will be what we do. I'm thinking an Alaskan cruise with a week long tour of Alaska at the end sounds just about right.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The tree is gone :(

Well it is official. Our front tree had to be taken down yesterday. It had survived several ice storms, lots of heavy winds and bugs. But the last downburst did it in. At first I thought it would only lose a couple of branches. But then more branches broke off. And finally the tree guy said it all needed to come down. There were severe cracks in the main trunk that would have snapped the tree in another big windstorm.

August 1995
We had planted the tree just a couple years after moving into the house. It certainly grew to be a mighty tall tree over the years. And it only took less than 30 minutes for it all to come down.
All you need is a chainsaw

That big tree came down to this pile

Friday, July 1, 2011

Year in Review

Can you believe that the year is half over? Wow, where did that time go. I figure I would review the first half of 2011 for today's post.

January-February brought us the ice/snow storms that shut down everything for basically two weeks. I have never had work close for as many days ever (and I've worked here 23 years) as it did for these ice storms. We were very lucky and didn't lose power, didn't lose our tree, and didn't drive each other crazy. During that time off, I did have to work from home finishing a $75Million proposal to keep our contract with the government for another 5 years. The announcement will be made next month hopefully. I'm feeling pretty good that we will have it.

Whitney finished up her last semester of high school. There were so many lasts that after awhile I stopped saying it. But she worked so hard and got the scholarship she needed to go to the college she wanted to go to. We are very blessed to have such a wonderful child. I know she is going to be successful and have a great college experience.

The house is almost done being renovated. We built that house 18 years ago and it looked like a 90's house. We took down or painted over all the wallpaper, installed recessed lighting in the kitchen (bye-bye flourescent light) and got the cracks in the ceiling fixed before being painted. It really is looking good. There still are some projects left to be done but I'm pleased with our progress. Plus the house will be paid off in five years!

As we enter summer we are in the middle of a drought and hot, hot temperatures. Yikes, we set a record for the entire month of June above 90 degrees and we set a record for most days in a month over 100. And there is no relief in sight. My favorite season is fall but we won't have any pretty leaves this year since it is so dry.

I won a big award at work this spring. It was great to be recognized by the university for my hard work. I know I'm good at my job, but always a plus to get the external recognition. Plus we are getting pay raises starting in July. After three years without an increase, this couldn't have come at a better time.

And I've found many new people here with this blog and reading others. I truly enjoy seeing what happens in other people's lives. I wish all of you a healthy and happy second half of 2011.